Underwater world of River Bollin revealed through hands-on habitat project

07 Jul 2022

United Utilities funding has supported Mersey Rivers Trust in providing dozens of activities, with more still to come


A project to highlight the importance of the River Bollin has helped more than 500 youngsters get to know their local waterway and logged some 72 wonderful species of plants and animals living there – and that’s just the start.

Through United Utilities’ Catchment Systems Thinking (CaST) Account, funding has been provided to the Mersey Rivers Trust for a range of activities across the River Bollin catchment, in places such as Macclesfield, Wilmslow, Bowdon and Hale. The programme of events aims to raise awareness of biosecurity and habitat management, and help people find out more about the plants and creatures that call the river home. Mersey Rivers Trust CaST children's indoor activities 2.jpg

The activities began in winter 2021 with a series of classroom-based sessions for local schools and Scout and Guide groups, helping them find out more about sustainability, water use and storage, the impact of invasive species on our ecosystem, and how they can play their part to help rivers.

Over the past few weeks these groups have been out on the river banks to put their learning to the test and see for themselves what lives in the water. They’ve been getting hands-on through activities such as pond dipping, and seeing the plants and invertebrates in their natural environment.

Elephant Hawk Moth.jpgA bioblitz event was also held recently, with around 150 people taking part to log an amazing array of butterflies, birds and bugs. There have also been foraging workshops, guided walks and craft sessions for the wider community, with more activities still to come over the next few months.

Sal Potts, Senior Project Manager at Mersey Rivers Trust, said: “The funding we have received from the United Utilities CaST Account has been wonderful. It has enabled us to bring communities closer to their local environments, and to help them understand what small changes they can do at home to make a big difference to local rivers and streams.

“The impact of this funding is phenomenal, with us already having been able to reach so many school children, scouts, guides and members of the public, and there are still lots of events and activities planned for autumn and winter this year.”

Jo Harrison, Director of Environment, Planning and Innovation at United Utilities, added: “Our CaST Account funding is helping Mersey Rivers Trust deliver some really interesting and important activities to help people get hands-on to support their local waterway.

“We’re delighted to see so many people taking part in the sessions on the River Bollin to learn about the plants and animals that live there, and the importance of looking after our water resources. We’re sure the upcoming sessions will be just as interesting and popular, and encourage people to get involved.”

Over the coming months there will be a series of bio security sessions with recreational groups such as canoeists, paddleboarders, anglers and runners, helping them find out about the importance of washing down their kit to avoid spreading harmful species. There will be free washing kits available as well as tips on how they can support the river’s ecosystem during their activities.

Also coming up is a taskforce to create a reed bed habitat at Tatton Mere. Starting in September, with funding from United Utilities and the Heritage Lottery, this will help to improve water quality and provide additional habitats for invertebrates.

Details of all upcoming activities will be available at: www.merseyrivers.org/index.php/get-involved/events

Find out more about United Utilities’ CaST Account at: www.unitedutilities.com/corporate/responsibility/stakeholders/catchment-systems-thinking/cast-account/